It’s been a little over 10 days since the presidential inauguration and already the nation is reeling from Trump’s actions. Citizens are protesting, Democratic senators are boycotting & impeachment rumors swirl. Let’s take a look at the damage that the Donald has inflicted on the nation since January 20th.
Ban on Immigration
Last week Trump issued an executive order banning immigration and travel from seven majority Muslim countries – Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Somalia. The ill-planned order was met with outrage from human rights groups. It also left hundreds stranded or turned away from airports, including green card holders and army translators which led to nationwide protests at major airports. Since Friday, the ACLU successfully filed a lawsuit against the order which led to a New York judge granting an emergency stay to halt the ban. Since then several other judges have followed suit. The drama continues. Two days ago, former attorney general Sally Yates instructed the Justice Department not to uphold the order and was quickly fired from her position and today in NYC more than 1,000 bodegas owners are striking in protest to the ban.
Donald Trump is the first president in decades that has refused to release his tax returns. He has given a vague description of his plans to step down from his business operations but he has yet to relinquish ownership of the Trump Organization. His executive order on immigration does not ban travel from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The three countries are also majority Muslim so why are they exempt from the ban? Many point to Trump’s past business dealings with the three nations. He earned $5million from a licensing deal in Turkey and he has ties in the United Arab Emirates. All of these facts lead to the conclusion that Trump is set to profit from his presidency which would be in direct violation of the ‘emoluments clause’ in the Constitution which states that a president cannot receive gifts from foreign governments. A petition to impeach to Trump due to his disregard of the constitution in relation to his business interests is currently making the rounds, so far it has almost two-million signatures. Last week a lawsuit was filed by a coalition of ethics experts and legal scholars knowns as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Global Gag Rule/Hyde Amendment
On his first Monday in office, Trump reinstated and expanded the Global Gag rule aka the Mexico City policy – a Reagan era ruling that cuts off US funding to global health clinics that make any mention of and/or provide abortions even if they also provide assistance for many other family planning services including HIV and Zika. The rule infringes on the health and safety of women and children around the world and it also marks another step in the presidents attack on abortion. A day later the House passed H.R.7 which makes the Hyde Amendment permanent. The amendment prevents the federal funding of abortions and now it also eliminates abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Since November nominations for much of Trump’s “Swamp Cabinet” have been met with disdain. At the moment, two Republican senators have become the first of his party to say they will not vote for one of his nominees – Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have stated that they will not support his pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos for her stance on charter schools and school vouchers. Trump’s pick for the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has advanced to the Senate floor despite the fact that Democrats boycotted his confirmation meeting. Although at least two votes from a minority party are usually needed to advance a nominee to the Senate, Republicans suspended that rule, pushing Pruitt through despite extreme opposition. Pruitt is a noted climate change denier and aligns himself with the fossil fuel industry. The biggest cabinet battle is over Senator Jeff Sessions nomination for attorney general. In 1986 he was nominated but ultimately denied the chance to serve as a federal judge due to alleged racist remarks and behavior. His current nomination has bitterly divided the government. Yesterday, on the first day of black history month, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted against him, however Republicans hold the majority so his nomination will now go to the Senate next week.
So far Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as secretary of state, John Kelly will be secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Chao is transportation secretary, Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis is secretary of defense, John F. Kelly is secretary of homeland security, Mike Pompeo is director of the CIA, and Nikki Haley will serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Supreme Court Pick
On Tuesday, Trump turned his Supreme Court nomination into an affair fit for reality television. In the past presidents have made their Supreme Court nominations during the day but Trump made his decision on primetime television at 8pm. After inviting two different candidates to Washington he announced that Neil Gorsuch would be his pick. In the past Gorsuch defended companies like Hobby Lobby who sought religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act citing that their beliefs meant that they shouldn’t have to contribute to the health insurance of employees if that includes birth control. He hasn’t explicitly stated his stance on Roe v. Wade but given that one of Trump’s main campaign promises was to appoint an anti-abortion court nominee – things aren’t looking good. On top of everything, Democrats are arguing that the Supreme Court seat was stolen. Last February, President Obama nominated Merrick B. Garland for the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In an unprecedented move, Republicans blocked his nomination, holding things over in the hopes that a Republican nominee would win the presidency months later. They got what they wanted and now Democrats are threatening to filibuster over the matter. If that happens Gorsuch would have to get at least 60 votes to remain the nominee, however now Trump is threatening to “go nuclear” and is encouraging Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell to abandon the 60-vote legislation in order to get Gorsuch in.
-Jasmine Williams for The Untitled Magazine